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Hollins denies rift with Memphis management

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) - Grizzlies coach Lionel Hollins says he's on board with Memphis' new management, even though he would have liked to see the team's core stay together.

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Hollins spent more than 20 minutes before Friday night's game against the Golden State Warriors discussing the turmoil around the club.

The Grizzlies have played poorly after two recent trades. One was a money move that sent Marreese Speights, Wayne Ellington and Josh Selby to Cleveland. Then a three-team deal sent Memphis leading scorer Rudy Gay to Toronto. The Grizzlies are on a two-game slide.

That led to speculation that the team's chemistry was damaged, and that Hollins was not on the same page with the Grizzlies' new front office staff under owner Robert Pera.

``There's been a lot of negativity around our team, and me and my feelings about the trade and my feelings about management,'' Hollins said. ``Most of it is as far from the truth as it can be.''

Memphis defeated the Washington Wizards on Feb. 1, the first game newcomers Tayshaun Prince, Ed Davis and Austin Daye were available. Since then, they've lost twice - at home to Phoenix on Tuesday and the following night in Atlanta. In both losses, the team struggled defensively. The Suns scored 96 points and the Hawks 103 against a team that allows a league-best 90 points a game.

Hollins acknowledged teams have to adjust to change, and that the Grizzlies suffered through a hangover with the personnel moves. Gay, along with Marc Gasol, Mike Conley, Zach Randolph and Tony Allen, had become the core of a team that made playoff runs the past two years and was predicted to be among the best in the Western Conference.

Hollins said he would have preferred to keep that core together.

``I've been here five years, and I've taken the kids from baby steps to what I thought was a pretty good roster to do what I thought we could do,'' Hollins said. ``Whether we could or not remains to be seen. There are no guarantees in this thing. When decisions are made above my head, I have to run with it.''

Once a decision is made, Hollins said, it is his job to do the best he can to coach the team. And he is on board with the new ownership.

``It seems like a lot of my comments are taken in a context that I'm trying to be against management,'' Hollins said. ``I'm not against our management and our ownership. In the trade process - both trades that were made - I was in communication. They kept me abreast of what was coming on.''

AP NEWS
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The Associated Press
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